What was the inspiration for the painting on this week’s cover?
This painting came about because the subject sort of found me. That happens once in a while. You turn a corner and there it is—all the visual elements arranged in just the right way, along with something that stirs up an emotional response within you. The little yellow car was parked outside the library. I was drawn into it by the pure emotion of the dog in the car. The keen interest the pooch had in whatever was happening outside just made me smile. On top of that, the scene gave me a nice, simple composition and a rich, yellow/orange-ish color to work with. I was just lucky to be there at the right place and time. You may find it interesting to know that this painting was done on a metal butcher’s tray. These types of trays are usually white enamel with a blue upturned edge. By doing the painting inside the tray, the edge then became the “frame.”
Describe your artistic process.
I work both from life as well as using photo references in the studio. I think that combination works well for me. Having painted a lot outdoors, I have developed my own palette of colors that I trust when I need to go “off script” from what limited information the photo is providing. This painting of the dog was made about 10 years ago. Back then, my work was all about the subject—quirky subjects, odd juxtapositions, subjects that conveyed some universal truths/feelings that all of us share.
Now, there have been a lot of brush miles between that painting and what I’m up to these days. Yes, I still like to use an interesting subject, but after a few years of studying with the abstract painter Stan Brodsky, who just passed away unfortunately, I’ve learned that paint, color and shapes can be the subject of a painting. If you look at the recent work on my website, you would see that I’m incorporating more abstract and ambiguous elements into my figurative work. I am not an abstract painter, as I think I will always need something that I can paint light onto, that I can paint shadows from. My current direction is about exploring how to incorporate these elements and arrange them so they create the impact of a beautifully composed abstract painting.
How was growing up in an artistic family?
Noisy! Lots of grinding and banging on bronze, with the occasional “don’t look, I’m turning on the arc welder.” From 1966 on, my Dad was getting commissions to make large public sculptures—40-plus footers. He was also teaching art and ultimately retired as chairman of the art department at Nassau Community College. When I think about the creative energy, output and success my dad has had, if I can achieve even half of what he’s done, I will be pleased.
But in fairness, we should include my mother in this question. She was also an artist and had her own art gallery in Cold Spring Harbor for 13 years. I think both have an incredible aesthetic sense and I was very lucky to grow up in a home that had original, contemporary art in it. To their credit, they never pushed me in any creative direction whatsoever. I think they understood that an artist needs to be self-expressive, and that’s something you must find on your own.
For more on Doug Reina, visit dougreina.com.